Viewpoint: Stephen Hawking’s Israel Boycott Is Lost in Space

It's hard to believe he endorses a theory that if he can make some academic conferences a tad less prestigious, peace will bloom

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Stephen Hawking

Israel has become the world’s premier nondestination for the smugly self-righteous. Since 2006, there has been a movement to boycott Israeli academic institutions organized by a coalition of Palestinian groups, to which people like Bono and Stevie Wonder have lent support. The latest to join this list is renowned scientist Stephen Hawking, who recently announced that he had refused an invitation to attend the Israeli Presidential Conference in late June “based on advice from Palestinian academics that he should respect the boycott.” In a statement, Hawking added: “Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”

Hawking has written about multiple-universe theory, and it is possible that in some alternate world his action makes sense. But in this world it is a new example of an enduring, egregious hypocrisy. When the odd musician or writer ostracizes Israel, it is contemptible enough. But someone of Hawking’s stature and intellect should know that boycotts are antithetical to the ideal of open inquiry that animates the scientific enterprise.

(MORE: Strikes on Syria Signal an Emboldened Israel)

Not that there aren’t times when ethics override the free exchange of ideas. Or perhaps Hawking just doesn’t believe in talking to people with whom he disagrees. Where then is his condemnatory statement about the treatment of the Maya people in Guatemala, the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Kashmiris in India, the Kurds in Turkey, the Baha’i of Iran, the Shi‘ites of Pakistan, the Chechens in Russia or perhaps about the Tibetans in China, where Hawking recently paid a celebrated visit? Rather than actually confront the difficulties of the region, he is deploying his considerable prestige to say that one country, among all the nations of the world, is uniquely deserving of obloquy.

Then there is the question of what, exactly, standing up the Israeli Presidential Congress is going to achieve. As Hawking must know, he is boycotting precisely those most likely to agree with his political stance, the left-wing academic community in Israel. It’s hard to believe he endorses a theory that if he can make some academic conferences a tad less prestigious, peace will bloom.

If Hawking and his confederates believe in the efficacy of boycotts, as Jeffrey Goldberg has pointed out, the next logical step is to boycott supporters of Israel, including many Jewish-owned businesses, research facilities and institutions. It would even be ideologically consistent to boycott synagogues. Historical echoes, anyone?

(MORE: Why Predictions Fail but Prophecies Don’t)

I do not for a moment believe Hawking is anti-Semitic. Indeed, he visited Israel before, in 2006, when the situation was not significantly different. Still, when you step into a conflict-ridden world, look around and decide that the one place that is unworthy of your presence is the single Jewish state, your actions have an anti-Semitic cast no matter the purity of your intentions.

Israel will survive the slight, but every collapse of moral resolve takes a toll. You can object to the policies of the Israeli government and protest them and rail against them and seek to change them: many do, both in the U.S. and Israel. When only Israel is blackballed, however, when condemnations from the U.N. vastly outnumber those of all other nations combined, there is more going on than careful moral calculation. Hawking, perhaps unwittingly, has cast his lot with darkness, and not the kind you can spot with a telescope.

138 comments
stephengreen736
stephengreen736

While Hawking has opinions and the right to express them, he is not immune to criticism.  And lets face it, he can be wrong, and modern Israel probably isn't the place for him..  

2aya22
2aya22

"the next logical step is to boycott supporters of Israel, including many Jewish-owned businesses, research facilities and institutions. It would even be ideologically consistent to boycott synagogue." This is argument is invalid and deceptive. Lets pretend Hawking is boycotting America. Its like saying, "the next logical step is to boycott supporters of America, including many Christian-owned businesses, research facilities and institutions. It would be ideologically consistent to boycott Church.

jake321
jake321

@2aya22

You left of, “Historical echoes, anyone?” This puts the quote you use in context and pretty much invalidates your comment and comparison. If you don’t know of this repeated history of collective boycotts against Jews, you’re not qualified to say anything meaningful about this subject. By the way, some of this may already be happening. A few years ago one of my European clients who is a very wealthy supporter of Palestinian lead BDS, said that she and other like minded folk would have to boycott ALL Jewish businesses (NOT just Israeli or “Zionist”) if Israel didn’t change its ways. After the last Gaza war, she was true to her word. She broke off all business and communications with me. I’m a Jewish Californian, non-Zionist. I wonder where she now gets her wonderful French baked goods, since when she told me this back when, she did say she would feel bad about doing this, not because it was reflective of the Nazis, but because her favorite local bakery was owned by a Jew.     

sjsamuel71
sjsamuel71

Nice try Rabbi Wolpe, but you surely realise (it's one of the reasons for your article) that Hawking's actions are not that lost in space, although one could argue that Hawking himself is not that political a person. Fact remains that many of us around the world (i'm from India) have an unexplained fondness for the Jewish people and Israel but just cannot stomach the Israel-induced sufferings of the Palestinians. Maybe you cannot admit to seeing it (just as the U.S. foreign policy chooses not to), but surely you cannot argue that the entire world (the UN resolutions that you mentioned) willfully acts with malice towards Israel. Many of us have been aware about the issue and the facts on the ground ever since we began our newspaper-reading habits -- and that was a long time ago. And sooner or later, Israel will be forced to listen to the moral voice of the world and arrive at a just settlement with the Palestinians. In that sense, Hawking's action deserves respect. Oh, and by the way, those wise sages, Desmond Tutu and Mandela, termed the Israeli siege apartheid. Even if i did not know a penny's worth of the Middle East problem, i would still be inclined to believe their words. And i'm sure a lot of others feel the same way.

jake321
jake321

@sjsamuel71

This is an old one. I too would like there to be a just settlement which would be a 2SS. Most Israelis think that but most Palestinians still want it all, or so the polls show. I was only disrespecting of his tie to those who have publicly called for policies that would mean the end of Israel and the elimination of the Jewish presence in the ME. I hope the 2 sides can now move towards a 2SS before it becomes a 1SS solution where it’s only Israel west of the Jordan. You’re right about Tutu but not Mandela. He didn’t call the situation Apartheid. There was a fake letter put out by one of those Palestinian eliminate Israel groups about 10 years ago which they claimed was from Mandela.

In any case, things for the Palestinians beyond the Green Line are bad in many ways, but there is nothing like Apartheid in Israel itself. And technically, however bad it is, by definition it can’t be Apartheid since the UN, South Africa and English dictionaries define Apartheid in terms of race. Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews are not separate races. In fact, over a third of the Jewish population in Israel came from the Indigenous Jews of Arab countries. This is more like a feud between first cousins over who should inherit the family farm.

sjsamuel71
sjsamuel71

@jake321 @sjsamuel71 Jake, with all due respects,i knew someone would make a technical jargon out of my reply: 2SS, polls, west of Jordan, fake letter, Green Line and UN and English dictionaries. And you are also wrong about the fact that Tutu has not called it apartheid.

But all that apart, you would realise that it's a deeply flawed situation, with Israel holding all the aces (land and power) and with the U.S. oblivious to world opinion. A two-state solution with pre-1967 borders or inevitably a one-state solution. Israel will have to budge, or it'll be forced to by the march of time. How early opinion and politics in Israel changes would decide how less traumatic the eventual partition would be. And however the PR machinery of Israel plays it, the Palestinians are the aggrieved people as of now, not the other way round.

jake321
jake321

@sjsamuel71

@jake321

I am sorry for the use of jargon, any misunderstanding or too technical a response. First, I didn’t say that about Tutu. What I said is that Mandela never accused Israel of Apartheid. But more importantly, my main point was that while Dr. Hawking was taking a principled stand as he saw it, he also did strongly associate his position with others whose stand on what should happen with Israel and, implicitly, with the Jews of the area is despicable. He is clearly intelligent enough and principled enough to be honest and say he also would like the elimination of Israel and the removal of the Jews of the area, or should disassociate himself from those who support this genocidal approach.

As of now the Palestinians may be the greater aggrieved people. However, in the past they were part of aggressive wars against the legitimate state of Israel and its people. It might not be nice, but losing wars has its consequences, especially for those who started them. But you’re right. We are now here and hopefully both parties will seriously make the compromises needed for the creation of a Palestinian state on part of the west side of the Jordan (that’s geographic and not jargon).

Finally, it’s also not always nice, but very rarely in human history has who is the most aggrieved party had much to do with the ultimate outcome of a conflict. If anything, the clinging to the aggrieved party narrative has been one of the main reasons for recurrent wars in this area and has been a major hindrance to a peace settlement.

Achille
Achille

Pathetic journalism that publishes an article accusing a person, without legitimate reason, of Antisemitism.  Dr. Hawking objects to some actions of the Israeli government; he doesn't object to ALL cultural/ethnic Jews. 


volman48
volman48

@LiborSupcik so, then the fact that United stated of America was base on 'inhabit others' land that criminalising USA as a legitimate state? Or jews, that in fact built jerusalem and where invaded hundreds of times by foreigners of all sorts and yet managed to give the world the first 'democrat' in the face of Jesus who was a member of Jewish society (that you just questioned here and call them as people on a mission to inhabit others') ...You should visit Israel and learn the history based on archaeological fact you will witness there. Than you will dare not speak of Jews as the occupiers of land of 'others'. Jesus was a devoted jew who visited the temple many times...who built the temple? 

Was there ever a Palestinian state or even a nation called palestinian? talk to Jourdan king...he will tell you what hist grandpa did  palestinians ...learn a thing or two ...Jourand is the birthplace of Palestinians...HALf  OF iSRAEL IS for arabs. They are israeli citizens ...any one jew living in gaza or west bank? Any jews in Egypt? Iraq?  Siria?   You are fool of hot air

LiborSupcik
LiborSupcik

Boycot or dialogue? Both are ways of communication; this time he rightfully chose the more efficient one.  What dialogue can one have with a system that supports people who believe they have a mission to inhabit others' land? 

GordLindsay
GordLindsay

I, somewhat regretfully, ascribe Professor Hawking's willfully blind support of anti-Israel partisans to his physical condition. As well as he has done under severely trying circumstances, I have to assume that, deep down, there is probably a well of anger and resentment against the G-d Who made him the way he is. Since Israel is the nation and place most associated with G-d, I believe Dr. Hawking has displaced his anger

DeanJackson
DeanJackson

Dean Michael Jackson is boycotting Stephen Hawking, and here's why:

The Physics Community gives the constant 0 (zero) to Gravitational Potential Energy (GPE). The Physics community says that the constant is an arbitrary value (any value will do, they say), yet:

(1) this value of zero for GPE is necessarily 1, since the POTENTIAL of anything at its maximum is always 100%; and. 

(2) a GPE of zero is necessary for Stephen Hawking and others who use that value in order to prove that our universe popped up from nothing: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist." -- http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/09/02/us-britain-hawking-idUSTRE6811FN20100902.

For example, if the universe consisted of only the Earth and the Moon, and the Moon is catapulted so far away from the Earth that its gravitational energy no longer affects the Earth, the gravitational energy doesn't disappear. According to the Law of Conservation of Energy, the gravitational energy becomes POTENTIAL energy (GPE). This GPE Stephen Hawking (and the Physics community) assigns the constant zero to. Now, when we return the Moon back to Earth's orbit, GPE is said to be -1, according to the Physics community. 

Here's the math for Stephen Hawking and the Physics community and my correction:

Earth's mass [1] + Moon's GPE when back in Earth's orbit [-1] = 0, so universes are for free, 

however if we use correct constants for what we are describing, the equation reads like this: 

Earth's mass [1] + Moon's GPE when back in Earth's orbit [0] = 1, so universes are not for free.

Let's further examine the above:

When the Moon's GPE ceases when back in Earth's orbit, that is when ACTUAL Gravitational Kinetic Energy (GKE) begins, which would have a constant of 1. Now GKE is simply the CONVERSE of GPE, so now let's move the Moon away from the Earth again. KGE declines as the Moon moves further away from the Earth (.9,.8,.7,.6 and so on), and conversely GPE increases (.1,.2,.3,.4,.5 and so on until the Moon has reached infinity distance from the Earth, in which case, logically, GPE would be 1, not 0). 

GKE and GPE are the same phenomena, just separated by space, not unlike the duel sides of a coin. This converse relationship between GKE and GPE is also the discovery of what I call the Gravitational Converse Principle.

Stephen Hawking's (and the Physics Community) assignment of the constant zero to GPE is inexplicable.

Clarification:

1. If GPE is 0 (zero) at infinity, then there can be no GKE; and.

2. ask yourself how could Stephen Hawking and the Physics Community not know what "potential" means by assigning zero to something (in this particular case, Gravitation POTENTIAL Energy) that is 100% potential? Obviously, if something is 100%, the constant one would use to quantify it is 1, and such a constant wouldn't be an arbitrary assignment (as the Physics Community says the assignment of the constant zero to GPE is, it could be any number, they say), it would be a NECESSARY assignment. 

As for his boycott stance, Stephen Hawking's politics are just as informed as his science! It was the Arab League, at their first summit meeting in Cairo, Egypt (1964), that created the Palestine Liberation Organization. Before 1963 Arabs living in Jordanian-controlled West Bank and Egyptian-controlled Gaza called themselves Arabs; the term "Palestinian" would have been eschewed then because it was associated with the Jewish Homeland of Palestine (Arabs living in Palestine circa 1920 called themselves Syrian, wanting to merge Palestine into Syria.*).

So what was the Earth-shaking event that prompted all Arab governments to promptly meet in Cairo in January 1964, you ask? Israel was rumored to either have tested or acquired its first atomic bomb in 1963.** Needless to say, Arab governments had to hastily assemble to inaugurate a new strategy towards Israel, since any coordinated military move to destroy Israel wouldn't work anymore.

This brings us to the Six-Day War, which was planned (with the cooperation of the USSR) to be lost by Arab governments, so as to operationalize the Arab governments' proxy strategy, using the newly-minted "Palestinians".

Note that Arab governments never did create an “Arab” state for West Bank/Gaza inhabitants between 1948 - 1963, nor a “Palestinian” state (when “Arabs” was changed to “Palestinians”) between 1964 - May 1967.

The next phase of the Arab governments' "new" Long-Range Strategy will be to have Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza renounce their claim for an independent state and opt to become Israeli citizens instead, which is what they are according to the Palestine Mandate of 1922.*** When one throws in Arabs living in the refugee camps, the Jewish inhabitants of Israel will be electorally out-voted, leading to the reincorporation of the territory that is now Israel back into the Arab fold.

eduardoduek
eduardoduek

I wonder what would Mr Hawkings do if the palestinians/Iran instead of threatening to destroy the State of Israel, turnaround and declare that now, they would like to destroy England insteaad? Believe me, give their logic --or its lack thereof -- is within the possible. Can anyone reading this imagine what would we do, here in the US, if a country threaten us with complete destruction? Would we fire a missile or two in reply to a daily barrage of iranian made missiles? No self respected country can stand on the sidelines after threats of destruction --well documented of course -- and daily aggression.  Mr Hawkings probably befriends a handful of palestinian physicists, but his action spits in the face of the many many many physicists, many Nobel prize winners, of jewish belief and some, up to now, friends of his, some of who have already decided not to participate in seminars and conferences in England for the the position adopted on this issue but local academicians. Mr Hawkings, this ill-decision you are taking is yet another brick in the wall of isolation which your predecessors in England fought --maybe more than in any other country -- to erradicate. And now your are building it. Shame on you, and your very short sighted decision. 

Dr. Eduardo Duek

Physicist

jake321
jake321

Even the Far Left students at UC Berkeley have seen the light about the vial intentions of the BDS movement. While the Student Senate there recently passed a resolution by a very close vote to recommend the divestment from a few companies they assert were helping the Israeli military, they made it clear that this was not in any way to be considered as a part of or an endorsement of the BDS movement. In fact, they condemned major actions and goals of BDS. Explicitly, the resolution disavows BDS’s “…end goal of a one-state solution that would replace the state of Israel.” And apropos Dr. Hawking’s action, the resolution also condemns and disavows BDS’s “…cultural and academic boycott, which hurts more people than just policymakers, is counterproductive to academic and cultural growth…” They go on to say that their actions “…should in no way be misconstrued as support for any other goals or beliefs related to the BDS movement.” This was reiterated by the student government president who said, “In no way do I endorse the movement’s call for cultural and academic boycotts…” Even if  Dr. Hawking still wants to personally engage in a "counterproductive" academic boycott, he should be as clear as these students in asserting his principles while disassociating himself from BDS and its destructive goals and intentions.

momina71
momina71

i salute the courage of MR STEPHEN HAWKINGS in standing up to IMMORAL and UNJUST policies of zionist controlled ISRAEL...........in coming days i 'm hopeful many many celebrities of his stature would see that MORAL RIGHT matters in the jurisdiction of science and science needs to align itself with some MORAL code whether political in nature or social...........as the case may be. 

AtThyWord777
AtThyWord777

At the end of the day, as much as Stephen Hawkings may be respected as a Scientist, he is now throwing away a golden opportunity to express his scientific views on an international platform and is being used as a pawn on the chessboard of selfish politics.

Opportunity waits for no man. 

Science should not be shackled with the chains of politics.

The iron boot of politics should be dismantled and thrown into the scrap heap of history.



AtThyWord777
AtThyWord777

Science cannot stop to wait for politics to resolve all the problems in the world.

People grow old and pass on and when they die their contribution to science depends on how much they availed themselves to science .

Stephen Hawkings may make political statements that have totally nothing to do with science.

Politics change as people change. 

Regrettably Stephen Hawkings contribution to science would appear to be now ring fenced by the " Iron boots of politics..".

Some other scientist will pick up from where Stephen Hawkings threw in the towel.

Science will not stop to wait for politics to get it's house in order. 


perlman.izzy
perlman.izzy

I'm Jewish and I see nothing wrong with what Hawkings is doing.  My dad said largely the same things as the author of this article but I don't agree that his actions have an "anti-Semitic cast".  Or that the Israeli academics will necessarily have the same sentiments as American and European ones (ask a liberal who's been mugged; as I was recently, actually).  But the bottom line is that Hawkings has every right to boycott anybody he likes.  Boycotting is a legitimate way to pressure people to do the right thing.  It worked in South Africa and it may work here, although I doubt it will be very effective if it remains confined to academia.  The bigger question remains whether the boycott is justified -- it is well documented that the Palestinian leadership has turned down advantages in the past in favor of retaining a "right to return" and other untenable principles, and the rocket attacks/checkpoint restrictions are a chicken-and-egg situation.  Regardless, these are questions to put toward the boycotters themselves.  I think criticizing the boycott on any grounds other than these - particularly the spectre of antisemitism - is ill-advised.  

RaimoKangasniemi
RaimoKangasniemi

It's curious how people like Jews and Philo-Semites who have spent the last 70 years asking from the whole world why nothing was done to help the Jews and save them from the Nazis now go around telling that nothing should be done to help another oppressed people and that if something is done, it will supposedly have no effect at all.


I salute Stephen Hawking's decision and his courage. May many others follow his lead!

wilscombe
wilscombe

I am eternally grateful that Israel is not part of the British Isles.

TomFrauenshuh
TomFrauenshuh

Netanyahu is a wacked religious extremist who wants to wage a fundamentalist war on his neighbors. While Israel certainly isn't the only nation in the region responsible for such conflict, they are perpetuating it by flaunting around with their U.S. paid-for military (which is far more advanced than any military near them). Essentially, Netanyahu wants to start WW3 and because Stephen Hawking, among others, doesn't want to kiss his ass at some dinner then you want to smack a label on him and criticize him...pretty typical for anyone opposing Israel's fundamentalist war. This is still America however, and nobody HAS to support a fundamentalist war if they don't believe in it, even if The State and its media cronies TELL you to.

jayc8301
jayc8301

Boycotting Israel is NOT the same as boycotting Jewish-owned business or culture. Otherwise Noam Chomsky would in essence be advocating for boycott of his own books and output. As much as Israel is a Jewish state, it does not represent all Jews. This one fact is important in understanding that NOT supporting Israel doesnt necessarily makes you anti-Semitic.

BillPearlman
BillPearlman

The krauts at least had a snappy slogan. " The Jews are our misfortune". 

Cheeta_Govinda
Cheeta_Govinda

"...that boycotts are antithetical to the ideal of open inquiry that animates the scientific enterprise."

So you mean that scientists are required to engage & embrace everyone regardless of criminality or anything else? 

By your logic if Iran invites Israeli scientists for a nuclear convention, they should oblige.

Just one of the many gaps of logic in your rant =)


jake321
jake321

This action by Dr. Hawking places him in support of the Palestinian lead BDS movement. It means he effectively endorses the goals of this movement which advocates policies that if implemented would result in the elimination of Israel and eventually of its Jewish residents. The main chant you hear at BDS rallies is, "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!" That doesn't seem to leave much room for Israel. In a public conversation at a BDS fundraiser which I had with a key BDS leader, I asked what their ultimate goal was. She said, "a unitary state" under their policies that would guarantee an overwhelming Muslim majority. And what of the Jews of that new Muslim state? She said it would be best if they had their own areas but since the new Muslim state would be a  democracy, it would be up to the will of the majority to make the final determination. And what would be the most effective thing we could do in the US to advance ultimate BDS goals? With a smile she said, "Lobby for a change in immigration law that would allow Israeli Jews to freely move to New York City." That BDS chant has two meanings to the word "free." It's clear whom BDS would like to see this new Muslim state be free of. I'm disappointed that Dr. Hawking has associated himself with such a movement even if his principled personal position might be correct.

mbranagh
mbranagh

It is imprudent perhaps to speculate too much (except Einstein did plenty and very fruitfully) but would any knowledgable person believe that Einstein would have a shred of regard for Israel 2013 (a nation that gave South Africa the nuclear bomb,a nation that alligned with the Ugandan cannibal,Idi Amin until he turned on Israel,a nation that armed the Central American militaries including Rios Montt in Guametmala last Friday convicted of crimes against humanity,genocide of 300000 native Ixil Mayans-a scale worse than the nazi genocide-a nation that in 2 blitzes on the Gaza concentration camp murdered 800 children?

Everything in Einstein's brave life indicates he would be shoulder to shoulder with bravest Hawking.

KM363-has addressed one of his key questions but I would add that our special sympathy must be for circumstances where we ourselves are complicit. I would think a rabbi might have some ethical sense in that regard. It is our fighter bombers that destroys young lives in Gaza,it is our dollars that allow israel to act with impunity,it is our diplomats that veto every resolution at the UN critical of the UN just like Russia is doing now on Syria.


KM363
KM363

The author asks, "Where then is his condemnatory statement about the treatment of the Maya people in Guatemala, the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Kashmiris in India, the Kurds in Turkey, The Bahai of Iran, The Shia of Pakistan, the Chechens in Russia, or perhaps about the Tibetans in China, where Hawking recently paid a celebrated visit?"

This is a typical, run-of-the-mill argument by Israel partisans: Israel is "singled out".  Therefore critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians must clearly hate Jews -- unless, that is, they happen to verbalize an equal amount of condemnation for all the *other* evils perpetrated by *other* states against ethnic or religious minorities.  Only then can we know that the Israel critics don't just hate Jews alone.   They hate others too!

It's an idiotic argument, and amusingly self-undermining insofar as it implicitly acknowledges the evil done by Israel, while insisting that it always be placed in a wider context.  As though, once placed in a wider context, everyone should be happy to excuse it.  

DavidG
DavidG

Some people compare this action to the boycotts that were used against the apartheid regime of South Africa. Actually Israel is much worse, South Africa never occupied someone else's land for decades while oppressing the residents and continuously stealing their land. 

The only way it seems that Israel will come to its senses would be by such methods. However, I don't think boycotts will work either - maybe we just have  to wait for the Return of the Christ.

TrueAmerican56
TrueAmerican56

Hawking is right, a person of high respect and ethics.  Current Israel is an enemy of the US, England and the world, an enemy to the Palestinians, an enemy to peace, all the reasons Mr Hawking could use in his justification.  Besides the fact that he is considered the smartest man in the world, and if he is making a statement, he knows fully well why and his reasons for it, he is not following any group out of ignorance.

ditdahdit
ditdahdit

It's Israel's media proxy's job to tear down anyone who criticizes any policy, no matter their accomplishments or stature. No actual slight intended Mr. Hawking, just doing their job.

RayHanania
RayHanania

Oh, they would have also bashed Albert Einstein for being principled, maybe even calling him Anti-Semitic? I think Stephen Hawking is in good, principled company. Being principled is far better than being "popular" in a biased environment.

slmc5199
slmc5199

Shame on TIME for publishing an attack based on very weak reasoning.

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

Let me just say one thing.  There is one reason why Mr. Hawking's actions are erroneous, though I understand his feelings towards the current Israeli government and its current oppression of the Palestinians.

The event that Mr. Hawking is boycotting is actually being attended by Palestinian academics.  If these Palestinian academics, many who live under the current occupation of Israel can attend this conference, why is Mr. Hawking boycotting it?  Are these Palestinians any less dedicated to liberation than Mr. Hawking?

Shmilfke
Shmilfke

I love how the justification for bashing Israel is that "Israel does not respect International Law".


There is no logical farce bigger than that. "International Law" is dictated by a majority of countries administered by dictators! Sudan, Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, etc etc etc they all have a vote! Look at the all the UN resolutions over the last 20 years - I think more than 90% of them are directed at Israel. How does that make sense?? Syria has killed more people in the last year than all the people who died in the wars Israel fought it for its survival!


Israel is a nation of free thinkers and free press. There honestly is nothing else you can say about someone who refuses to visit Israel but will visit brutal dictatorships other than that they are anti-Jewish bigots. If Stephen Hawking refuses to visit the United States because of Guantanomo Bay I will take back calling him an anti-semite, but clearly that won't happen. Extraordinary man, ordinary anti-semite.

BenFranklin
BenFranklin

Hawking is no Einstein, that is for sure.

Also, I notice that even the author of this piece fails to mention that if religious apartheid is to be condemned then the entirety of the Muslim world would be off limits for travel because that is one of the basic tenets of their creed.  The double standard is appalling.

ajl2517
ajl2517

I congratgulate Mr. Hawking on his courageous stance and hope that this is in some way a turning point in the mainstreaming of the BDS movement. Rabbi Wolpe should have more honor than to play the hate card, however tacitly, against a man of such unquestionable academic and personal integrity. Israel's occupation defies its claims of being among the cultured and civilized democratic nations. This is no double standard as is often claimed, mind you; none of the Arab states claim to be liberal democracies, and neither to the last of the Stalinist regimes.

yves.sobel
yves.sobel

Stephen Hawking studied physics and astronomy, not ethics nor politics. Let's Emmanuel Levinas teach us ethics and let's Israeli citizens - whether Jew or Arab, muslim, christian or atheist - decide democratically the policy of their country.

KeithDiggs
KeithDiggs

Hawkings is a FOOL, a Christ hating idiot and looking at him it's easy to understand his bitterness towards God. 

PapaFoote
PapaFoote

NO!

"ALMOST EVERYTHING" has "TWO SIDES":


The "GOOD" vs. "BAD", including "YOU", and "OTHERS", as well as "ME", in various "LEVELS", is "JUST" the "WAY IT IS" with "HUMANS" living on "EARTH PLANET" with the "OTHER ANIMALS" and "Other Living Things"!


The Old Mountain Goat doesn't "JUDGE" - it just tries to "DECIDE" where the "MIDDLE" is, for the "BALANCE of LIFE" for "ME"!

JohnFrum
JohnFrum

This is sure going to come as a rude shock for America when we hear George Stephanopoulos have to try to explain to America that Israel is an Apartheid state, and that is why STEPHEN HAWKINGS is boycotting academic conferences there


The US media has about 40 yrs of catching-America-up on Israel and her Neocons

Yahoo!

AIPAC must feel like that Monty Python 'huge gourmand' who's just been given his after dinner mint - and Stephen Hawkings is like the waiter jumping over the couches to escape the catastrophe

Kablooie!

American media outlets are on a full court press by AIPAC as we speak, believe me

JohnFrum
JohnFrum

The solution to Palestine is finally being taken OUT of Israeli hands completely – dismantling of Apartheid must be forced upon them by BDS and the ICC

Israel has so thoroughly discredited itself from any good faith negotiations or interest in anything other than ethnic cleansing over the last 65 yrs that it is no longer capable of even imagining a way out of it's crime.

There are droves of Israelis who will secretly even see this as blessing - to 'stop them before they do it again' - since they have shown themselves so incompetent to do it themselves

This is where the ICC and BDS (and Stephen Hawking) come in - this is where we are - and this is what is going to happen, over every Israeli objection imaginable

AkshatArora
AkshatArora

To be frank this article wreaks of being written by someone who is pro-israeli to the point of not seeing what is right and wrong. Also, I think the writer is unaware of the sheer fact that while open discussion is a vital tool of the sciences, boycott is a vital tool of political thought. So calling it antithetical doesn't make a lot of sense. Also, I am an Indian and I take deep offense to the reference that Kashmiris are treated by Indians in the same way Palestinians are treated by Israel. As an average Indian I would like to tell you millions of people go to Kashmir and gel with people in the valley well. There may be a lot military presence in the valley, but to think that average Indians consider any less of them is untrue and more a propaganda of the western press which until very recently was very close to Pakistan which has vested interest in Kashmir.

drdriesen
drdriesen

The ludicrousness of those who blame Israel alone can only be laughable...like one laughs at the babblings of tiny babies. When we realize, however, that most of such writers really hate Jews down deep and that Israel is an easy target to cover such hate, then one realizes how completely American education has been destroyed and turned into a propagandistic, media-driven, and intellectually dishonest enterprise. Is it any wonder that so many people are bigoted, see and hear only what they want to perceive, and purport to actually use their intelligence critically in America? This is our future...welcome to it!

Those who buy into the lies of and manipulations of both sides, not just Israel, are just simpleminded. Their comments are unjustified and thus their ridiculous opinions, that are not backed up with real facts, are foolish and should be ignored. Just because someone states an opinion, does not imbue it with some kind of special virtue of truth. Nonsense is still nonsense, no matter how it is disguised.

It is painful, in my later years, to witness the 'dumbing down' of Americans to the level of stupidity, the inability to tell truth from lies, and a willingness to force feed others their benighted beliefs.

Employers recognize this and no longer are impressed with diplomas from American high schools or degrees from  American universities.

Grim
Grim

The volume of conversation that this one act has elicited is success in and of itself.  If Dr. Hawking had refused to visit China because of the plight of Tibet, it would have been third-page news in the west and virtually ignored in the Chinese-controlled media.  His boycott of Israel is front page for a second news cycle now.  Here in the United States, the home of the "Boston Tea Party", we're going to debate the validity of boycotts because of it.  Yes, we all know as the writer has stated that any time you disagree with Israeli policy you are branded an "anti-semite".  It is a meaningless term tossed out the same way one would say "commie" in the 50's, a term designed to chill speech and dissent by casting anyone agreeing with the accused of being an "anti-semite" as well.  The writer may as well have just made the accusation directly instead of out of the side of his face, given how meaningless the term is any more.

The argument is that Dr. Hawking should have had the dialog directly.  The reality is, a statement made at a convention of scientists in Israel would be largely ignored, would not even make it to the western press, and even if it did it would be outweighed by Dr. Hawking's perceived support of Israel indicated by his presence alone.  The same people whining about his failure to show up would have used his attendance to discredit any statements he made at the gathering.  And the purpose of such dialog is to engage as wide an audience as possible into the conversation.  A statement from the podium would not have gotten nearly the attention and wide-spread engagement that the boycott choice has gotten.

RayHanania
RayHanania

Hilarious to hear the pot calling the kettle black. Israel, the smugly self-righteous violator of international law, describes itself as the  "the world’s premier non-destination for the smugly self-righteous" ... I would say it is THE destination for the smugly self-righteous. How ridiculous a premise for this article, bashing people who stand up for principle just because the violator of principle is Israel. Typical and smugly ironic. RAY HANANIA

pendragon05
pendragon05

Unfortunately, the Palestinians can NOT handle a state. The Israelis can.

mrdeanpaton
mrdeanpaton

If Mr. Hawking dislikes the way Palestinians are treated, he should tell the Israelis in person. It's much better to deal with people face to face. It's so easy to ignore someone if you can't hear them squeaking. A newspaper article can be dropped in the trashcan, a guest cannot be dismissed once he has arrived. His presence makes people uneasy. I am amazed that so many people have such a problem with Israel, a country whose people have every reason to be paranoid, but they can't take the time to go and express themselves to these people.

mrxexon
mrxexon

Until Israel addresses the charges of racism and segregation, these boycotts need to gather speed. Perhaps empty store shelves will convince the people of Israel where sound argument has not?


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